Updated: Dec 8, 2019
Ghost in the Shell: Innocence directed by Mamoru Oshii, originally came out in 2004 and is the sequel to the movie Ghost in the Shell. Innocence takes place in the year 2032 with a cyborg named Batou, whose entire body is is machine, and only a few traces of his human brain remain. Batou is accompanied by another detective named Togusa, to investigate why certain female robots (gynoids) made for sexual pleasure are turning on their owners and murdering them.
The movie is brimming with philosophical dialogue, hidden meaning, and other interesting conversations about the meaning of life. Batou and Togusa's investigations lead them to a company that makes the gynoids called LOCUS SOLUS, from there the trail leads to a hacker named Kim, who is an ex-solider. Entering Kim's mansion leads the pair to an eerie and surreal groundhog day like maze. That is, the day keeps repeating and the discussions increase in intensity. Kim admitting ties to LOCUS SOLUS leads the two back to the company where they meet up with Major Motoko Kusanagi to take down the company and uncover the mystery behind the gynoids.
As in other reviews, our purpose here is not to provide a complete summary of the plot, but rather to look at how the movie relates to the meaning of life. With that said, there are quite a few interesting quotes and conversations that take place in this film as shown below.
1) Haraway: Unlike robots intended for heavy labor and industrial use, pet androids and gynoids weren't designed with Unitarianism and Pragmatism in mind. Why did we feel compelled to create them in man's image? An idealized image at that. For what reason or purpose does humanity go to such length to engender these likenesses of itself? (Instagram picture)
2) Haraway: Children have always deviated from the human norm. That is, if we define a human as something that has a fixed identity and behaves in accordance with its own free will. What then are children, those early stage humans who exist in a state of chaos. Even though they physically resemble humans they differ from them drastically--mentally, physically, and emotionally. The dolls that little girls play with when they pretend to be mommy, aren't real surrogate babies or toys on which to practice mothering skills. Maybe these girls aren't just rehearsing for motherhood. Perhaps playing with dolls is very nearly the same thing as actually raising children.
Togusa: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Haraway: In other words, raising a child is the quickest way and closest you can get to realizing an age old dream. Creating an artificial human being. That's how I see it.
3) Chief Aramaki: Do you consider yourself a happy man?
Togusa: I guess. Sure.
Chief Aramaki: A man once said that people are never as happy or unhappy as they may think. What is truly important is to never grow weary of your life and aspirations.
4) Batou: If life's true nature is information that is passed down via genes then society and civilization is nothing more than gigantic memory systems.
5) Writing on the wall: When we face death, our life is like a puppet on a festival cart. As soon as one string is cut, it crumples and fades.
6) Kim: I don't understand it when people try to mimic humans by breathing souls into dolls. The definition of a truly beautiful doll is a flesh and blood body devoid of a soul. A corpse standing on tip toes, teetering on the brink of collapse.
If you compare the two, then just in their very existence humans don't hold a candle to dolls. The inherent flaws in man's knowledge leads to flaws in man's reality. That sort of perfection can only be achieved by something with no consciousness or infinite consciousness. In other words, it is only attainable by dolls or Gods.
7) Kim: In the words of Confucius, not yet understanding a life, how can you understand death. Few people know death.
Few people know death. We only endure it, not out of determination but usually from stupidity and customs, and most men only die because they know not how to prevent dying.
8) Kim: It's the uncertainty that something that appears to be alive isn't. On the other hand it might be the uncertainty that perhaps something that doesn't appear to be alive actually is. Do you want to know why people are so unnerved by dolls? It's because dolls are modeled after them. In other words, dolls are no less than humanity itself. That gives rise to fear, fear that humans might be reduced to simple mechanisms and materials. In basic terms it's the fear that the human phenomenon is fundamentally devoid of meaning and purpose.
Even science which had long endeavored to shed light on the phenomenon of life has played a major role at formenting this fear. The belief that nature is quantifiable leads to the hypothetical conclusion that humanity can also be reduced to simple mechanical components.
Batou: The human body is a machine which winds its own springs. It is the living image of perpetual movement.
Kim: The 18th-century man's a machine theory has been resurrected by cyberbrains and prosthetic technology. Ever since it become possible to externalize memory through the use of computers, man has been aggressively mechanizing himself. Man's quest to expand the upper limits of his abilities as a living creature. It's a manifestation of the desire to overcome Darwinian survival of the fittest, and to break free of the evolutionary rat race through sheer strength of will. It's also the desire to outdo the natural world that gave birth to mankind itself. God envy, the conceded fantasy to be a life-form equipped with perfect hardware spawned this nightmare.
9) Kim: Humanity is merely a thread for which the dream of life is woven. That is, our dreams, intelligence, and yes even our ghosts are rips and distortions that arise in the uniform, timeless matrix.
Overall, as one can quickly see, there are numerous conversations, many of which still are not included here that touch on our purpose and the meaning of life. The conversations include everything from Eastern to Western philosophies—even quoting the Bible in some places. Furthermore, as shown above, many of the conservations also make us question the deeper reality of nature, the future, and what will become of us—humanity. Innocence dives deeper into many of the subjects than the original film Ghost in the Shell.
We rate the movie the following:
Overall - 8
Meaning of Life Relevance - 9
Uniqueness – 9